BRITISHNESS is the state or quality of being British, or of
embodying British characteristics. It comprises the qualities that
bind and distinguish the
British people and form the basis of their
unity and identity, and the expressions of British culture —such as
habits, behaviours, or symbols—that have a common, familiar or
iconic quality readily identifiable with the
United Kingdom . Dialogue
about the legitimacy and authenticity of
Britishness is intrinsically
tied with power relations and politics; in terms of nationhood and
belonging, expressing or recognising one's
Britishness provokes a
range of responses and attitudes, such as advocacy, indifference, or
Although the term 'Britishness' " into political and academic
prominence" only in the late 20th century, its origins lie with the
formation of the
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. It was used with
reference to Britons collectively as early as 1682, and the historian
Linda Colley asserts that it was after the
Acts of Union 1707
Acts of Union 1707 that the
ethnic groups of
Great Britain began to assume a "layered"
identity—to think of themselves as simultaneously British but also
Scottish , English , and/or Welsh . In this formative period,
Britishness was "closely bound up with
Protestantism ". The Oxford
English Dictionary Online dates the first known use of the term
Britishness to refer to the state of being British to a June 1857
issue of Putnam\'s Monthly Magazine .
Since the late 20th century, the exploration and proliferation of
Britishness became directly associated with a desire to define,
sustain or restore a homogeneous British identity or allegiance to
Britain, prompting debate. For instance, the Life in the United
Kingdom test —reported as a test of one's Britishness—has been
described as controversial. The
UK Independence Party
UK Independence Party have asserted
Britishness is tied with inclusive civic nationalism , whereas
Commission for Racial Equality reported that Scots, Welsh, Irish
and ethnic minorities may feel quite divorced from
of white English dominance;
Gwynfor Evans , a Welsh nationalist
politician, said that "
Britishness is a political synonym for
Englishness which extends English culture over the Scots, Welsh, and
the Irish". Historians Graham Macphee and Prem Poddar state that
Britishness and Englishness are invariably conflated as they are both
tied to the identity of the
British Empire and UK; slippage between
the two words is common. With regards to a proposed oath of
allegiance for school leavers, historian
David Starkey argued that it
is impossible to teach
Britishness because "a British nation doesn't
* 1 Government perspective
* 2 Ethnicity and social trends
* 3 Within the
* 3.3 Identity and politics
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 5.1 Footnotes
* 5.2 Bibliography
* 6 External links
Gordon Brown , then
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer , made a speech in
2006 to promote Britishness. Brown's speech to the
Fabian Society 's
Britishness Conference proposed that British values demand a new
constitutional settlement and symbols to represent a modern
patriotism, including a new youth community service scheme and a
British Day ' to celebrate.
One of the central issues identified at the
Fabian Society conference
was how the English identity fits within the framework of a devolved
England require a new constitutional settlement for instance?
Her Majesty\'s Government has sought to promote
Britishness with the
inaugural Veterans\' Day (now called Armed Forces Day ), first held on
27 June 2006. As well as celebrating the achievements of members of
the armed forces, at the first event for the celebration Brown said:
Scots and people from the rest of the UK share the purpose—that
Britain has something to say to the rest of the world about the values
of freedom, democracy, and the dignity of the people that you stand up
for. So at a time when people can talk about football and devolution
and money, it is important that we also remember the values that we
share in common.
Critics have argued that Brown's sudden interest in the subject had
more to do with countering English opposition to a Scottish Member of
Parliament becoming Prime Minister.
In November 2007
The Times newspaper's Comment Central asked readers
Britishness in five little words. The winning suggestion was
"No motto please, we're British".
A duty to promote democracy forms a key part of the "duty to actively
promote fundamental British values in schools" in the United Kingdom
in accordance with section 78 of the
Education Act 2002 . UK schools
* encourage respect for democracy and support for participation in
the democratic processes
* an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making
through the democratic process
for example by
* in suitable parts of the curriculum, as appropriate for the age
of pupils, material on the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of
democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain, in contrast
to other forms of government in other countries;
* that all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened
to, and demonstrate how democracy works by actively promoting
democratic processes, such as a school council whose members are voted
for by the pupils.
ETHNICITY AND SOCIAL TRENDS
Not all people residing in
England and the
United Kingdom are white
due to immigration from other countries. According to the 2011 census
in England, around 85.4% of residents are white (British, Irish, other
European), 7.8% Asian (mainly South Asian ), 3.5% Black, 2.3% are of
Mixed-race heritage, 0.4% Arab, and 0.6% identified as Other
ethnicity, with a significantly higher ethnic minority population in
large cities such as London .
A survey conducted in 2007 found that the majority of people in many
non-white ethnic groups living in
Great Britain described their
national identity as British, English, Scottish or Welsh. This
included almost nine in ten (87%) of people with mixed heritage , 85%
of Black Caribbean people , 80% of Pakistanis and 78% of Bangladeshis
. Non-whites were more likely to describe themselves as British than
whites. One-third of people from the
White British group described
themselves as British; the remaining two third of respondents
identified themselves as English , Welsh, or Scottish ethnic groups.
A study conducted for the
Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in
2005 found that, in England, the majority of ethnic minority
participants identified primarily as British, whereas white English
participants identified as English first and British second. In Wales
Scotland , the majority of both white and ethnic minority
participants identified as Welsh or Scottish first and British second,
although they saw no incompatibility between the two identities.
Other research conducted for the CRE found that white participants
felt that there was a threat to
Britishness from large-scale
immigration, the "unfair" claims that they perceived ethnic minorities
made on the welfare state , a rise in moral pluralism , and political
correctness . Much of this frustration was found to be targeted at
Muslims rather than minorities in general. Muslim participants in the
study reported feeling victimised and stated that they felt that they
were being asked to choose between Muslim and British identities,
whereas they saw it possible to be both at the same time.
WITHIN THE UNITED KINGDOM
English national identity
Scottish national identity
Scottish national identity
NATIONAL IDENTITY IN SCOTLAND FROM 1997–2003
SCOTTISH NOT BRITISH
MORE SCOTTISH THAN BRITISH
EQUALLY SCOTTISH AND BRITISH
MORE BRITISH THAN SCOTTISH
BRITISH NOT SCOTTISH
There is evidence that people in
Scotland are increasingly likely to
describe themselves as Scottish, and less likely to say they are
British. A 2006 study by social scientists at the Universities of
Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews and Lancaster shows that more than eight
out of ten people in
Scotland saw themselves as Scottish. At the same
time, there has been a long-term decline in Scots defining themselves
as British, although more than half of the people in the survey saw
themselves as British.
In the 2011 Census in Scotland:
* 62% identified themselves as SCOTTISH ONLY
* 18% identified themselves as SCOTTISH AND BRITISH
* 8% identified themselves as BRITISH ONLY
Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party MSP and
Cabinet Secretary for Justice ,
Kenny MacAskill gave the following submission to the
UK Parliament 's
Joint Committee on Human Rights in March 2008 discussing a British
Bill of Rights:
What is meant by Britishness? Is there a concept of Britishness? Yes,
just as there is a concept of being Scandinavian. We eat fish and
chips, we eat chicken masala, we watch EastEnders. Are British? No,
we are not. We consider ourselves Scottish.
IDENTITY AND POLITICS
In a 1998 poll, 37% of
Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party voters stated
themselves to be "Scottish, not British", the rest demonstrating some
form of British identity, with the most popular choice being "More
Scottish than British" (41%). This conclusion was again put forward
in 2002, with similar figures cited. However, the British Social
Attitudes Survey of 2007 found that only 21% of Scots saw themselves
as 'Equally Scottish and British', with less than half choosing
British as a secondary identity. The report concluded that 73% of
respondents saw themselves as 'only' or 'mainly' Scottish.
United Kingdom portal
Jacobean debate on the Union
* National colours of the
Commission for Racial Equality 2005 , p. 21.
* ^ "British – Britishness". Brewer's Britain and Ireland.
credoreference.com. 2005. Retrieved 11 April 2010. (subscription
* ^ A B C D "Britishness". Oxford English Dictionary Online.
September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
* ^ Wright & Gamble 2009 , p. 32.
* ^ A B
Commission for Racial Equality 2005 , pp. 11–12.
* ^ Wright & Gamble 2009 , p. 149.
* ^ Colley 1992 , pp. 12–13.
* ^ Colley 1992 , pp. 8.
* ^ What is
Britishness anyway? BBC News, 10 September 2002
* ^ Archived 14 April 2010 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ "South East
Wales Public Life – Dr Gwynfor Evans". BBC.
Retrieved 13 April 2010.
* ^ Macphee & Poddar (2007). Empire and After: Englishness in
Postcolonial Perspective. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books. ISBN
* ^ Can pupils learn \'Britishness\'? BBC News, 12 October 2007
* ^ "Pupils \'to take allegiance oath\'". BBC News. 11 March 2008.
Retrieved 13 April 2010.
* ^ Brown speech promotes
Britishness BBC News, 14 January 2006.
* ^ The future of
Britishness Fabian Society, 14 January 2006
* ^ New
Britishness must resolve the English question Fabian
Society, 14 January 2006
* ^ "Brown pinning his hopes on a new regiment". The Herald . 27
June 2006. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved
15 October 2006.
* ^ "Our Scottish PM in waiting goes British".
Daily Telegraph . 14
January 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2006.
* ^ Hurst, Greg (22 November 2007). "Maverick streak makes mockery
of hunt for a British motto". The Times. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
* ^ Department for Education, Promoting fundamental British values
as part of SMSC in schools, November 2014
* ^ Office for National Statistics, Social Trends No.39, 2009.
Commission for Racial Equality 2005 , p. 37.
Commission for Racial Equality 2005 , p. 4.
* ^ Devolution, Public Attitudes and National Identity Archived 1
December 2007 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ "Study Shows Scottish sense of \'Britishness\' in decline".
University of Edinburgh. 2 June 2006. Archived from the original on 15
June 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
* ^ Bond, Ross; Rosie, Michael (January 2006). "Feeling Scottish:
its personal and political significance" (PDF). Institute of
Governance, University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
* ^ "Scotland\'s Census 2011 - Analysis: National Identity".
Retrieved 22 September 2014.
* ^ Joint Committee on Human Rights, A Bill of Rights for the UK?,
Twenty – ninth Report of Session 2007–08, Ev. 61, Q290
* ^ "Scottish Affairs, D.McCrone, Polls 1997–98 (online
article)". Scottishaffairs.org. Archived from the original on 21
December 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
* ^ "Scottish Affairs, D.McCrone+L.Paterson, No.40, Summer 2002
(online article)". Scottishaffairs.org. Archived from the original on
20 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
* ^ A B "Home" (PDF). NatCen. Archived from the original (PDF) on
29 December 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
* Colley, Linda (1992), Britons: Forging the Nation, 1701–1837,
Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-05737-9
Commission for Racial Equality (November 2005), Citizenship and
Belonging: What is Britishness? (PDF), Commission for Racial Equality,
ISBN 1-85442-573-0 , archived from the original (PDF) on 7 January
* Wright, Tony; Gamble, Andrew (2009), Britishness: Perspectives on
the British Question, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 978-1-4051-9269-9